Interpal has accused the Daily Mail of misrepresenting it deliberately and maliciously in an article which linked the charity to a Hamas event in Gaza which featured a children’s play reenacting a stabbing attack on an Israeli soldier.
The Mail said that “sickening footage of a seven-year-old Palestinian girl stabbing Jews was taken at a festival of hate” partly funded by a UK charity supported by Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MPs.
The film was broadcast on Hamas’s TV station last week, with the British charity’s logo clearly visible on a banner behind the stage.
In the footage a little girl is seen pretending to stab two boys dressed as Israeli soldiers, who respond by shooting her. Then a boy dressed as Palestinian fighter kills the soldiers with a replica semi-automatic weapon. The play was a reenactment of the controversial tactics used by some Palestinians in the West Bank fighting Israeli occupation and oppression.
The Mail said Interpal donated £6,800 to the Gaza festival which was organised by the University College of Applied Sciences in Gaza City and ended last week. Following the Mail piece, The Charity Commission said it was investigating “as a matter of priority.”
However, in a statement Interpal slammed the Mail article.
The charity said: “In Gaza, the Festival of Childhood and Education has been held annually for more than a decade. Major charities and institutions are among its other sponsors. It was under this umbrella that Interpal’s Gaza Field Office held its own activities in Gaza City for children and teachers. These activities included outdoor sports, a picnic, providing gifts and also celebrating the great work of dedicated teachers who have gone that extra mile for their pupils.
“With regards to the video featured in the Mail Online article — with which Interpal had no connection whatsoever — we wish to reiterate that what took place on the stage is unacceptable and, without admitting or accepting any responsibility, we believe that an apology is owed for the distress that it has caused.
“For the record, we at Interpal strongly assert that the charity has done nothing wrong, illegal or immoral, and feel that this article is misleading its readers intentionally by inventing a scenario, despite our clear explanation that we had no involvement in what was shown in the featured video. A generic banner for the whole festival in question was used as the backdrop for this ‘play’ without any permission being sought or given from Interpal for the use of our logo in this way nor, we would imagine, from the other sponsors of the festival. We wish to stress that the play shown is against everything that we as a humanitarian aid agency stand for, and that our funding was used for purely educational and recreational purposes with children already sponsored by the charity.
“Given that Interpal and our chair of trustees have dealt with most of the issues in the article which have been raised repeatedly by the Mail and other newspapers — as the journalist in question must know very well — this has all the appearances of a witch-hunt and an attempt to drag the charity into political affairs which have nothing to do with its charitable work in the field.
“Interpal is reporting this to the Charity Commission as a serious incident. The charity will cooperate fully with the commission, as it always has done on previous occasions when vexatious complainants have raised doubts about its integrity. Discussions are also under way with the charity’s legal representatives regarding any additional action that might be taken.”